No one really wanted full body scanners. There were numerous talks of invasions of privacy and viable cases of abuse of that privacy. Today, however, the pantsbomber has made that discussion return to the forefront, with many people readily giving up their privacy because they now feel that the government knows what they’re doing. For the skeptic in me, it all seems rather convenient.
The Dallas/Fort Worth NBC website complains that there aren’t enough full body scanners in use. They apparently don’t know that the 19 airports that do have them have just finished a trial phase. You do not order hundreds of machines that cost $190,000+ each until you know you are definitely going to use them. There are 150 more on order. I would imagine that it takes a while to manufacture and calibrate the machines, yet NBC expects them to be rolled out overnight to “protect” us.
Dallas-based aviation security consultant Clive Miskin said whole-body scanners may be the best technology to prevent the terrorists from personally carrying explosives onto planes.
The full body scanners will not, of course, stop anyone with airport connections from getting someone to place explosives onto planes, thus eliminating the need to carry them on themselves.
The American Civil Liberties Union has opposed the imaging machines, arguing that the body images they produce are too revealing. And some members of Congress have supported legislation that would limit their use, allowing passengers to opt out and submit to a pat-down search instead.
In an effort to increase privacy, the TSA screeners who read the images are placed in a separate room so they are not able to see the passenger who is being shown on the imaging screen.
“It’s not like you’re taking a picture and posting it on the Internet or selling it in a magazine,” said Paul LeBon. “It’s just a scan that lasts for 10 seconds.
No, not yet. But consider this, if they you do turn out to be suspected of something, there has to be a means to save the photo (think about the photos you see online already) how long before this is abused? Naturally, if will be used first on famous people to make money, then on “that hot chick” so you can pass it around to your friends. Let’s not even consider how many pedophiles might work for the TSA or attempt to get a job as a screener. Can you really spot a pedophile by looking at him/her and deny them employment? I can’t either.
One of the comments on the site states that, “If you don’t want to submit to screening that will ensure the safety of others traveling by submitting to a scan, then stay at home or find an alternate means of transportation.” This is misguided at best. First, there is no viable way of finding alternate means of transportation when you must fly for your business. Second, as I have mentioned numerous times, full body scanners do not ensure the safety of others.
There are many that are also calling for more racial/ethnic profiling. Yes, because it’s easy to look at Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and say, “Black, check, from Africa, check, must be muslim, check, therefore, must be terrorist.” Right now, I can place four friends who fit that profile, except none of them are terrorists. If you must profile, train people in behavior profiling. Racial profiling will never work. Picking out every Arab looking person (which seems to include Sikhs to the uneducated TSA worker) does no good. Tell me again, what did Tim McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski look like? If you don’t think a white person could be a terrorist, think again.
The fact remains that, if the security measures in place were actually followed, this man would never had been able to get onto the plane. He had no passport. He paid in cash. He was denied a visa to the United Kingdom. He was on a watch list. His own father reported him to the American embassy. How many red flags have to go up before people pay attention? Security screwed up and now the general public has to pay for it. Because they are doing it in the name of security, people are buying into it, believing that this will help. It’s also convenient that this happened over a major holiday. The people that are traveling now are not seasoned travelers. This may be the only time per year that they travel. They do not see, nor understand, that the new security measures put into place over the past few days will do little to increase security.
I really hate pulling out the cliches here, but it just seems so appropriate that I can’t help myself. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” - Benjamin Franklin 1775
Bruce Schneier was right and we should listen to him more often. More secure cockpit doors and allowing passengers to fight back were all the additional security measures we ever needed. If only people would have listened to him, we’d be a lot better off.